How to Cope With Period Pains

365:297 Snoozles As you might know I suffer from endometriosis, so I’m pretty skilled at trying to deal with period pains and cramps. These days I only have a few days a month where I need to take my pain killers, but I used to be on pain medication 10-14 days a month, and often still had to stay at home. I wanted to share different ways to cope with, ease and prevent the pains, and how effective I personally find them to be. Please note that every one is different, so please see your own personal doctor for advice. Also, I get very strong pain killers, because of my endometriosis, so just because something isn’t effective for me, doesn’t mean it might not work for you.

Medications

  • OTC-painkillers such as Advil, Aleve or Tylenol can be useful and usually relieve most women’s period pains. Be careful not to mix NSAID‘s (such as ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve)) without discussing it with your doctor first.
  • Prescription painkillers. I’m on 500mg of Naproxen prescribed by my doctor, which after doctor’s orders is mixed with 2x200mg ibuprofen and 2x500mg paracetemol (acetaminophen in the US). Always discuss any OTC-painkillers or other medications you take with your doctor.
  • The pill can be incredibly helpful as it usually lightens periods, and with doctor’s supervision it is completely safe to skip several periods (I used to only have 4 a year). If you suffer from endometriosis like I do, it’s even more helpful as it blocks the hormones that the endo needs to grow, and so it generally “pauses” it whilst you’re on the pill.
  • Hormonal IUD (such as Mirena) and the mini-pill can also help make periods lighter, and thus often less painful.

Practical Suggestions

  • Exercise. You see this a lot, everywhere actually. Gentle exercise eases up the cramps. I do think this is true if you have average period pains, but if you have cramps as bad as mine have been at times, you can’t exercise, even if you wanted to. I’m talking pains that are so bad that you’re literally bend over when you try to stand up, and you spend 15-20 mins talking yourself into going to the bathroom, or making that hot water bottle, which you know will make you feel better. I do greatly encourage you to try some gentle yoga or a nice walk if you feel at all up to it, I have many friends who say it helps them a lot, unfortunately, I can’t when I feel the worst.
  • Hot water bottle. This is my personal favourite, it really helps calm my cramps down, it’s simple, cheap and it’ll last you a couple of hours. Many women also find hot baths very helpful and relaxing, I do this when I have the opportunity, but where I live I only have the opportunity of a shower.
  • Caffeeine allegedly makes it worse, I don’t drink coffee and rarely drink enough tea for this to affect me, so you’ll have to try that out for yourself.

Prevention

For these, I haven’t felt a big effect, but I might not have done it regularly enough, or my period cramps might have been too bad because of the endometriosis.
  • Regular exercise.
  • Magnesium, fish oil, zink, calcium, B-vitamins and E-vitamin.
  • Cut down/cut out sugar and refined carbs.
One thing that has helped me is the IUD. I almost don’t have a period at all now, which is probably the reason why my pains have been reduced.
If your pains are so bad that following these tips and guidelines along with OTC-pain killers, you are still unable to cope with the pain, you should see your doctor, that kind of pain is not normal.

Questions

What do you do to deal with period pain? Do you have any tips or good advice?

12 Comments

  1. So higher doses of Naproxen did help you? When I went to the doctor and told him about how I have very painful periods, he sort of handwaved it and said the only thing he would do is prescribe me Naproxen, and I’d already said Aleve didn’t help me. So he basically told me to just shut up and deal with it. Then again, this is the same doctor that because I’m overweight criticized my 20-lb weight loss and said I was obviously too lazy to actually be causing that change through hard work and must just be sick. I guess I should find a new doctor.

    “but if you have cramps as bad as mine have been at times, you can’t exercise, even if you wanted to.”
    Yeah, nobody understands this. On days when it’s lighter I can go for a walk or something and that does help. But on the days when I’m curled up crying and can’t even get my mind off pain enough to read or play a game or something, I’m obviously not going to get up and move around a lot. Thanks for backing that up and reassuring me that I’m not being lazy or imagining the pain, there are other people who experience that.

    Caffeine – I just discovered this one last month. I was taking Excedrin, which is acetomenophin, aspirin, and caffeine. More drugs must mean more help, right? No. It was the pill that most helped with the pain, but it added nausea and usually made me feel almost as bad as if I had just taken a less effective pill. This time I bought off-brand acetomenophin because I didn’t have the money for the name brands. It was amazing! All of the pain relief with no nausea! So then I looked at the bottle and realized it was just acetomenophin, no extras. Amazing.

    My other tips – Bananas and peanut butter. It sounds silly, but it works for me. And really, for me, anything with peanut butter helps at least a little, because it is my comfort food and instantly elevates my mood. I’ve been told dairy makes it worse, so I try to cut down on cheese and such during my period. I think it helps a little. And also yoga poses designed to stretch and strengthen the lower abs in the weeks between my period. I haven’t been doing them much lately, but I need to start again because they really did help.

    For that matter, even during my period I find that the Child’s Pose can do a lot to relax me and make the pain fade…as long as I stay in that pose and don’t move for quite awhile. I’ve slept like that before when it was really bad, only slightly modified. Cross-legged instead of kneeling, with a pillow on my lap, and usually arms crossed above my head instead of extended like that.

    • Your doctor sounds like an arse! But many docs don’t take this seriously, took 7 years before I had a diagnosis (I even had an ob/gyn tell me I did NOT have endometriosis!) Some basically told me the pain was all in my head and get over it.

      Naproxen has definitely helped me (the prescription I get is 500mg, I believe standard Aleve is only 200mg, so you might try taking 2-2½ of those).

      You are not being lazy, you know your body best. I find that going for walks and doing yoga when the pain isn’t as bad and the rest of the month can be great.

      Heh, we don’t tend to mix different medications in the same pill, so we can only get acetaminophen by itself, happy you found out though :)

      Sugar tends to make things worse for me.

      Child’s pose is SUCH a help for me as well! Many hours has been spent curled up in child’s pose trying not to scream.

  2. LK

    I use to take high doses of Naproxin too but it really didn’t do much. The stick on heat pads worked far better.

    Caffine causes huge problems and will aggravate cystic fibrosis of the breasts as well. It ends up making them hurt way more than they should during your period.

    Yogi Mooncycle Tea does wonders. What is in it not sure but it makes me feel so much better and its 100% natural.

    The pill works. I have a mono-phasic. I rarely need pain killers and I have 1 actual day of a light period. Its heaven compared to the 3 weeks of PMS followed by 10 days of a period I had as a teenager. The only issue I’ve had with it is I get a migraine the day before my period every time. I use to get them before too but you can guarantee it will happen now. Its magic medicine and I dread the day I have to go off of it!

    • Thank you for your comment LK! I would be on the pill, but I’m not allowed anything with oestrogen, because it gave me migraine with aura, which combined with oestrogen quadruples the risk of stroke. I used to take my pill continuously as well though, and only had 4 periods a year which was great.

  3. I don’t have endometriosis, but my sister does. She’s on a pill right now that’s supposed to restrict her period to 4 times a year. It’s something new, since she was just diagnosed, but it’s given her really really crazy moodswings so we’re hoping that the doctor will try something different.

    I used to have very bad symptoms with my periods – not as bad as yours, of course, but pain that would leave me curled up sick in bed with nausea, unable to stand up straight because the muscles in my stomach hurt so much and OTC pain killers (and I’m including Midol, which so many women swear by) didn’t touch it. Honestly, one of the biggest helps I’ve had for this was losing weight. For me, my weight was making things worse, but I was in the place where I’ve lost about 100lbs and I’m still overweight. So this is not typical.

    PS: Sanil, you should *absolutely* find a new doctor. And then punch the one you have.

    I actually can’t take the pill because it raises my blood pressure to dangerous levels. Of course this was years ago and they’ve likely come up with new kinds between then and now, but I’ve learned to deal with the pains without the pill anyway. I love the hot water bottle, though I usually just lay on my stomach and let my chihuahua lay on the small of my back. She radiates heat like you wouldn’t believe and does basically the same job as the hot water bottle. :) I’ll also take a warm bath, or float in the pool, which just helps me relax and makes everything better. I guess I’m the odd one out because, as strange as it sounds, caffeine actually makes my cramps feel better. When I drink it in Coke form, it also helps with any upset stomach/nausea that I may be having. (I am totally willing to admit that this may be a psychosomatic effect – I believe that the caffeine/Coke helps, and so it does.)

    And possible TMI bit below:

    My *favorite* cramp easer: orgasm. Which is not possible when you’re sick from the cramps, of course.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your sister, and I hope the doctor figures something out because moodswings is no fun.

      I’m happy to hear you are doing better (great job on the weight loss!), your symptoms do sound a lot like endo actually, but they do think there’s a genetic link to the disorder.

      Hot water bottles are great! I love them.

      TMI: Orgasm does NOT help me when I cramp – they seem to make it worse actually.

      • You know, I was reading all the symptoms and thinking that they kind of sounded like me as well, but mine, as bad as they used to be, have gotten better so I really think that mine were more a symptom of an unhealthy lifestyle.

        TMI: I can believe that. I think it probably helps for regular period pains. Endometriosis, from what I’ve heard and read, is something on a whole nother level.

      • Well, health and especially diet does play a huge role in Endometriosis, but I do hope for your sake you don’t have it (or it’s just gotten better).

        Your pains do sound pretty damn bad though :)

  4. Interesting post. Thanks for the tips!

Trackbacks

  1. 30 Things You (Maybe) Don’t Know About Endometriosis | Becky's Kaleidoscope
  2. How Going Gluten-Free Helped Me Half My Intake of Painkillers | Becky's Kaleidoscope

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